India is home to over 1.2 billion people, with a majority of that population concentrated around the North and Eastern regions. It is extremely difficult for a centralized governing body like the Indian Railways, to handle operations all over India. They figured that if they divided the country into regions, it would make organizing more smooth and efficient. In the 1950s, it was decided to split it into 9 zones, and later on, in the early 2000s it was further divided, to get a total of 17 zones.
The Easter Railways
The Eastern Railways happen to be one of the busiest and advanced regions in India. It is headquartered at Fairly Place, Kolkata and is made up of four divisions, namely, Howrah, Maldah, Sealdah, and Asansol. Each of which is headed by a Divisional Railway Manager (DRM). The Eastern Railways is one of the first to adopt the current naming system and consists of A1 and A category stations like Howrah and Sealdah. They also operate one of the oldest trains of India, Kalka Mail which has been in operation since 1866. The three zones of ECR, NFR, and SER were part of the Eastern Railways before being split from it.
The Eastern Railway shares its history with the East India Railway (EIR) formally owned by the British. It was incorporated in 1845, to connect East India with Delhi. The first train ran on August 15th, 1854 between Howrah and Hooghly. The management was transferred from the EIR to the British India Government on January 1st, 1925. The current Eastern Railway was established on 14th April 1952 by merging three lower divisions of the EIR: Howrah, Asansol, and Danapur. More sectors were added, and by 2002 the Eastern Railways consisted of 7 divisions.
Advancements made in recent years
On October 1st, 2002, a new region was carved from the ER called East Central Railway. It separated Danapur, Dhanbad and Mughalsarai divisions from ER. On November of 2017, the ER became the first zone to introduce the first rake of the project ‘Swarna.’ In this project, the government gives a hand to zonal divisions to develop and create aesthetic and passenger friendly coaches and interiors. These features included sanitized toilets, CCTV cameras, and LED lighting, built-in ladders for berths and night signage for easy identification of berths.
Tracks and Workshops
The tracks on the Eastern Railway zone are mixed, with both narrow and broad gauge in operation. Out of the 2700 kilometres of track that runs through this region, nearly 1500 (55%) of it is electrified, with plans already in place to electrify the remaining tracks in the future. It has three significant workshops, which are Jamalpur, Liluah, and Kanchrapara. Each has an intended function; Jamalpur is meant for wagon repair, periodic overhaul (POH) of diesel locomotives, manufacturing of cranes and tower wagons; Liluah workshop handles POH of coaching, and freight vehicles and the Kanchrapara workshop is EMU locals and coaches.
East India is majestic and serenading in its beauty; it should be a go-to destination on everyone’s bucket list. If and when one decides to travel to the east, it is easy to find seat availability on eastbound trains and taking one should be relatively straightforward.